What works for someone else may not work for you, so make your own plan

You are constantly in search of that perfect diet. The diet that is super easy to follow, let you eat what you want, won’t force you to eat or not eat anything and also provide you with stunning fat loss results in record time. Well, let me make this quick and painful - such a diet doesn’t exist. Sad, I know but there’s not much you can do about it. The human body has certain unbreakable rules that help it function optimally and “Do not entertain any ridiculous physiological demands” is one of them.

The thing is that there is no one perfect diet. Everybody is different and every body is different. This is why you often hear about something working for someone you know but when you try it, you see hardly any changes. But the point isn’t to randomly start a diet and sit around fingers crossed hoping for results. The point is to find what works for you and build on that to arrive at a plan that will provide you with health, fitness and happiness in the long term.

First, some very basic science. In order to function optimally, the human body needs nutrients - proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals - which we get from food. While experts from different camps constantly fight about which is the most important nutrient, the truth, as demonstrated by our ancestors, is that we need all these nutrients in order to thrive. It is true that the body can make do without one or few of them, but survival is not what we’re interested in anymore. We are in search of optimal health and for that we need enough of all these nutrients.

In other words, if you can find a way to consume meals that contain adequate quantities of carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins and minerals, your health and body should be in fairly good shape (assuming other factors like food quality, exercise, sleep and stress are taken care of). But the trick is in ensuring that you get enough of all these nutrients because the way things are today, it is highly probable you are getting too much of some nutrients and very little of the others. This balancing act is where the magic is but for most people, this is not easy.

Conventional approaches based on calories and percentages require a lot of planning, will power and self control and hence people resort to trying highly marketed diets or using a plan that worked for a friend or emptying their wallets to celebrity nutritionists. But, in reality, there is a much simpler way to fix this nutritional imbalance.

Step 1: Look into your diet and find what you get too much and too little of.

Step 2: Reduce what you get too much of and increase what you get too little of.

For example, if your diet is dominated by carbohydrates (idli, dosa, upma, roti, rice, sweets, fruits etc) and is deficient in protein (milk, curd, eggs, meat and seafood), your solution is to eat lesser carbohydrates and more protein. If you get too much protein and very little carbohydrates, then you do the opposite. You get the idea.

I know it sounds too simple to be effective but trust me when I say it is not the giant leaps but these seemingly small yet consistent steps that take you closer to your goals.

Noted for his passionate, no-nonsense approach to healthy living, coach Raj Ganpath is a fitness and nutrition expert and entrepreneur.